Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Driving around the Sepang International Circuit

The Sepang International Circuit is the home of the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix. Located near the Kuala Lumpur International airport in Sepang , Selangor, this 5.543 kilometer long track was designed by German track designer Hermann Tilke. Construction on the Sepang circuit commenced in November 1997 and the track was officially inaugurated by the then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad on 7th March 1999.
Today, apart from the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix, the track also hosts events like the MotoGP, the Merdeka Millennium Endurance race, the Sepang Drag Battle and even Go Kart races. The SIC also offers enthusiastic drivers a chance to test their skills on a true-blue formula 1 track, via its ‘Track Days’ program, offered on weekends subject to track availability.
So what is it like to drive on the Sepang International Circuit?
Drivers who have driven on the Sepang track say that Malaysia’s hot and humid conditions add to the challenge of driving on the Sepang circuit. An average lap of the track is said to take 1 minute 37 seconds and the track features 15 turns and 8 straights along with various spots that are perfect for overtaking. 
The unique aspect of the track is a long run, straight to turn 1. This feature helps cars spread out during the actual race before they somewhat slow down to take the first tight right turn. Turn 1 then leads on to Turn 2 which consists of a tight hairpin, and  continues on downhill noticeably. Turn 3 is usually taken at full throttle before a short straight stretch that leads cars onto the 90 degree turn that makes up Turn 4, known as ‘the Langkawi Curve’. The challenging turns 5 and 6 which are commonly known as ‘the Genting Curve’, feature a high-speed long chicane which puts massive stress on tires. These turns are said to require much skill to tackle.
Another short straight stretch leads on to turns 7 and 8, the tack then tightens and turns left for turn 9, considered to be a prime spot for overtaking. Turn 10 consists of a flat out right before another tight right, leads onto the high speed turn 12. Turn 13 is a long, seemingly never-ending turn which twists right and tightens at the exit, another tricky turn which has much scope for error. Turn 14 is another long straight which leads on to a tight hairpin that is Turn 15.
Driving on the track is nothing short of exhilarating, say those who have had a chance to do so. So if you have a passion for F1 racing, why not wing your way to Kuala Lumpur to test your mettle on the challenging Sepang International circuit.

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